Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi dystopian eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
vox (Christina Dalcher)
Author: Christina Dalcher
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Publication Date: Tuesday, August 21, 2018! (hardback/e-book)
So I seem to be in the minority again. This book irked me. The premise is that a misogynistic bunch of males has taken over the government and women have become second class citizens. Restrictions include, but are not limited to- no jobs, no financial control, no access to books, no passports, and no real use of language. It’s the last limitation that made me want to read this book.
The statistic in the blurb claims that the is that the average person currently speaks 16,000 words a day. In this book the woman can only speak 100 words a day. To enforce this quota, all women are equipped with sensors around their wrists. Go over the limit and ye get an electric shock. And it isn’t mild. With every misbehavior, the force and duration of the punishments only increase.
The concepts behind limited women’s speech were fascinating. In particular the relationship between the main character, Jean, and her youngest child, a girl, was the most poignant part of the novel. The consequences for a generation of girls brought up without the skills of reading and the outlet of speaking were harrowing.
But unfortunately the expression of the novel’s concepts and the impact of its message were completely filtered down by the awkward execution of this novel. Some of the problems:
- unlikable protagonist – Jean is supposed to be smart and intelligent. She holds a PhD and was about to make a major achievement in treating the problems of language malfunction in stroke patients. And yet throughout the book she was whiny, unfocused, clueless, and meek. It made sense for the beginning of the novel but she never really became a strong force.
- unrealistic and unneeded plot elements – So much of this book felt unreal. Subplots about animal testing that were unnecessary. Brand-new drugs working the first and only time on a human subject. Multiple characters important to Jean that happen to be conveniently in a cell and rescued at a critical moment. No cameras or recording devices in any place that seems rational. Escalation of a bio-terrorist threat that literally makes NO SENSE and would hurt the bad people just as much as the others.
- too tied to current events – This book seemed to bash the reader over the head with it’s lack of subtlety. I am extremely liberal and yet this book seemed to be a political soapbox for hatred of the current regime. I feel it would have had more force if set in slightly more distant future.
- the muddled message – The theme seems to be a call for women to be active in politics. And yet it lambastes any woman who doesn’t follow a certain type of political activism. It doesn’t even seem to want women to have individuality of their own. Fie on any woman who wants to be a stay-at-home mom. Fie on any woman who doesn’t attend political rallies and march the streets. Fie on any woman that is a Christian. I do believe that all people should vote. But this seems to suggest if ye aren’t a rabid fanatic about yer politics then ye are useless. I get that a passive approach to horrible behavior can allow that behavior to flourish. Think the Nazis. But there are many different types of activism and legitimate lifestyles.
- lackluster ending – What a crock. For a book to be about women power, a man is needed to bring down the regime. Then the main character runs to another country and doesn’t even stay to help mitigate and direct the consequences of her actions. She is basically a coward through and through. She is always being selfish and really never cared about the greater good.
It’s been compared to the Handmaid’s Tale. Skip this one and read that one instead. This book was a muddled mess and therefore must walk the plank! The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic for a reason.
So lastly . . .
Thank you Berkley Publishing Group!
Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:
Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.
But this is not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
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